Leeds shells out £500m on campus in bid to be world player

April 27, 2001

Leeds University is to build a 110-hectare campus in a bid to create a next-generation science park worth £500 million.

A deal was signed yesterday with commercial developers Thorpe Park. The university's Knowledge Economy Campus will be created 10km outside Leeds city centre, and its aim, according to vice-chancellor Alan Wilson, is to attract high-tech businesses to the city and to cement their relationships with the university.

"This is not just an ordinary business park. We will be offering companies advanced business space combined with university facilities such as new specialist research centres, direct access to our graduates and a range of teaching programmes to support e-business," Professor Wilson said.

He said the partnership was based on a shared understanding of the critical role of knowledge, skills and research to businesses, combined with an advanced business infrastructure.

Peter Gilman, chairman of Thorpe Park, said the joint venture was one of the most significant signed in recent years.

"We already have business worth £10 million invested in the site and research shows that acccess to high-level skills and opportunities to collaborate with universities are two of the most important factors determining European location decisions by global technology companies," he said. "The Knowledge Economy Campus will offer both."

Companies at the site could benefit from close links with the World Universities Network, of which Leeds is a founder member. It has 11 partners including the universities of California and Washington.

Commercial partners already attracted to the site include Cable and Wireless, the National Grid Company and Time Retail Finance.

The university said the partnership was one of the most important ventures it had undertaken in recent times and it would allow Leeds to play a pivotal role in developing regional technology clusters.

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